In 2012, Britain reopened its embassy in San Salvador in line with its policy of strengthening ties with Latin American nations. The UK continues to build partnerships with El Salvador in areas such as trade, human rights, education and clean energy. The UK’s Chamber of Commerce is keen on encouraging business between these two regions.
Latin Americans, including immigrants from El Salvador, make up a rapidly growing demographic in the UK. Between 1997 and 2008, more than 140 Salvadorans acquired citizenship in the UK.
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Instances of Salvadorans sending money back home from overseas are common, so much so that the economy of the region depends considerably on these remittances. This guide will help you find the best way to send money to El Salvador.
Case Study: Banks vs money transfer companies
Santiago Hernandez moved to the UK as a teenager when he was accepted into a college. He now has a job and can start sending some money to his parents in El Salvador. He feels he can comfortably send them around £750 every month. Since El Salvador now uses American dollars as legal tender, this is the currency his parents will receive.
Santiago has an account with a leading bank in the UK. While his bank lets him send money to El Salvador, he feels he can get a better deal if he compares his options. This is what he finds.
Money transfer service 2
£1 = USD$1.3479
£1 = USD$1.4049
Amount received for £750
By choosing the money transfer company over his bank, Santiago’s parents can receive a little extra money. His parents would also get the money sooner. Santiago knows exchange rates are subject to change, so he decides to compare alternatives every now and again.
How do I compare transfer companies when transferring and receiving money via El Salvador?
Comparing money transfer companies is not difficult, provided you pay attention to some important aspects. This is what you need to know.
The monetary factor. You may get a seemingly great exchange rate but pay high fees. The reverse can be true as well. Find out how much money the recipient stands to receive to figure out which deal is better.
How the money is sent. If you choose to deal with a bank, it may let you initiate an international funds transfer by visiting a branch, over the phone or online. Some money transfer companies let you send money in person by visiting stores or kiosks. Some let you transfer funds over the phone. Your options increase considerably if you want to send money online.
How the money is received. An easy way is to transfer the money directly into the recipient’s bank account. If the recipient does not have a bank account, the money can be collected by visiting a cash pickup location.
Processing time. If you want to transfer funds in a hurry, consider sending money to a cash pickup location, as these transfers tend to take place almost immediately. If you’re transferring funds into an El Salvadoran bank account, factors that affect the turnaround time include the service provider you choose as well as the recipient’s bank. While some of these transfers go through in as little as one day, some others can take more than 10 business days.
Using the same bank. Using a bank to send money to El Salvador may be the ideal solution if you and the recipient have accounts with the same bank. In this case, you can benefit through reduced fees and quick turnaround times.
Minimum amounts. Be mindful that some service providers won’t let you transfer amounts of less than £500 or £1,000.
Customer service. Find out how you can contact a company representative should the need arise. While most offer support via email, some also let you get in touch over the phone and via chat.
You have two basic options if you want to send money to El Salvador from the UK.
Banks. Ask your bank if you can transfer funds to El Salvador. Find out how much you’ll have to pay in fees and how long the process takes. If your bank account comes with a chequebook, you can send a cheque via mail. Banks also let you purchase money orders, which you can send via mail as well.
Non-banks. If you want to send money to a cash pickup location, you can turn to money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram. You can also use a service like PayPal to transfer funds from the UK to El Salvador.
How do I receive money from El Salvador in the UK?
You can get money from El Salvador in the following ways:
Banks. You can have the funds sent directly into your bank account. The sender can initiate the transfer through a bank or a money transfer company. Receiving cheques and money orders via mail is also an option.
Non banks. Money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram have numerous cask pickup centres in the UK where you can collect transferred funds. PayPal also allows money transfers between El Salvador and the UK, as long as you and the sender both have PayPal accounts. (Opening an account doesn’t cost any money.) Once the transferred money gets to your PayPal account, you can transfer it into your UK bank account for withdrawal.
If you lose your wallet when travelling in El Salvador, start by cancelling all your credit and debit cards as soon as possible. You can then think about meeting your need for emergency funds in these ways:
Cash pickup. If a relative or a friend is willing to send you some money, you can collect it by visiting a cash pickup location. Identify a convenient cash pickup centre and pass this information onto the sender.
Credit card cash advance. If you lose a MasterCard, Visa or American Express credit card you can withdraw emergency funds in the form of a cash advance by visiting a local participating bank.
Travel insurance. With the right kind of travel insurance, you can get emergency funds to deal with different kinds of situations such aslost and misplaced baggage, flight delays and cancellations as well as medical emergencies.
Cash pickup locations in El Salvador/ Western Union / MoneyGram branches in El Salvador
Western Union and MoneyGram have several cash pickup locations in El Salvador. If you have to collect money from any of these locations, you’ll have to provide a reference number along with an acceptable form of ID such as your passport or driver’s licence. If you plan to collect a large sum, calling in advance to ensure availability of funds is a good idea. Here are some cash pickup locations in El Salvador.
Gilberto Martinez Ramos Calle Ppal Mercado Munici Local No 6 San Luis Talpa, La Paz +503-22708255 Open 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Correos El Salvador Calle Luis Rivas Vides Bo El Centro San Luis Talpa, La Paz +503-23348816 Open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4pm on Friday, 9am to 2pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
AMC De R L De C V 5ta Calle Pte Entre Ava Independencia Sur Y 2da Av Sur Local No 17 Edif Catan Santa Ana +503-24482636 Open 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
BCO Hipotecario Santa Ana Cent 2da Calle Pte Y 2da Av Nte Santa Ana +503-24411275 Open 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Banco De Cooperacion Financiera De Los T Talpa Departamento De La Paz Barrio El Centro San Luis Talpa, La Paz +503-22617943 Open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Cusca Aeropuerto Comapala En Centro Comercial Aerocentro Aeropuerto Comalapa Local Numero 3 San Luis Talpa, La Paz +503-22122717 Open 8am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Banco Agricola S.A. – #61 – Colon Av. Santa Ana California Entre 19 Y 21 C. Pte. No.71 Santa Ana +503-24400055 Open 7:30am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 2pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Citi-Cuscatlan Centro Ahorros Colon Av Fray Felipe De Jesus Moaga Sur Y 13a Calle Pte Sta Ana Santa Ana, 0 +503-22122717 Open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 12pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Exchanging pounds sterling is nearly impossible in El Salvador. As a result, make sure you take a mix of traveller’s cheques and US dollars. Keeping low denomination US dollar notes with you is a good idea because many small establishments don’t accept USD$50 and USD$100 notes.
Most visits to El Salvador remain free of trouble. However, there have been instances of violent attacks on tourists.
If you’re picking up cash in El Salvador, try not to collect too much money at one time. Use ATMs located in banks, hotels and shopping centres. There have been instances of attacks on foreigners in poorly lit and isolated areas.
If you’re driving, exercise caution at intersections, where armed robbers can target stationary traffic. If you’re using a taxi, get a hotel taxi or a radio taxi. Avoid unofficial taxis.
The steps involved in sending money from the UK to El Salvador depend on the chosen method.
Bank account transfer. If you wish to transfer money into an El Salvadoran bank account, you’ll have to provide the recipient’s name, account number, name of the bank and the bank’s SWIFT code. If you’re sending funds through a money transfer company or a bank other than your own you’ll have to provide your bank account, debit card or credit card details as well. Once you initiate the transfer, it may take several days for the funds to be deposited into the recipient’s bank account.
Cash pickup. When sending money to a cash pickup location, you’ll have to provide a desired location along with the recipient’s name. If you’re sending money online or over the phone, you’ll have to provide details of your bank account, debit card or credit card. Once you initiate the transfer, you get a reference number, which you should pass on to the recipient. The transfer can take place almost immediately.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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